Re: Critic's Choice, by Mick Dumke, October 22
Sherman Alexie's one of the best writers around, but he didn't win the Pulitzer Prize for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or anything else (yet). Alexie did win the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2007 for that terrific book.
Helen W. Gunnarsson
Re: "Baconfest Pro Cookoff: We Have a Winnah," posted by Mike Sula, October 26
Those are probably the sexiest photos on the Web right now. Sorry, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, and Claudia Schiffer, bacon is sexier than you. ;)
The Trouble With TIFs
Re: The Shadow Budget: The Daley administration commands an off-the-books kitty of taxpayer money equivalent to a sixth of the official city budget. Now we've got documents that show what they want to do with it," by Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke, October 22
When the state permitted sucking money from one [TIF] district to be used outside its boundaries, they did two things helping corruption. First, they controlled the alderman, stopped him from complaining on fear of losing TIF money to another ward, and its mirror, not to gain from the revenue from the adjacent TIF. The ring through the aldermanic nose fit well. Second, it concealed marginal to submarginal TIFs by gifting developers for projects which would never fully pay the necessary future benefits.
So the dailies cover the City Council, but somehow can't find a billion dollar slush fund?!? What exactly are they doing, retyping press releases? All the headlines about Daley's latest service cuts focus on what is going to be lost. Why don't any of them say, "Hey, there's a pile of money over here that Daley could use!"
Another great piece of reporting by Joravsky and Dumke!
How these criminals can rationalize keeping these details from the public is baffling. THAT'S OUR MONEY THEY ARE SPENDING AND THEY REFUSE TO SHOW US ON WHAT.
Ze Roberto—the dailies aren't covering this because it isn't news. Despite the breathless reporting of Joravsky and Dumke, very little in this article is new. We've known about the TIF's since their inception. For a few years (and to the credit of this column) we've known about the size of the TIF funds. And we know what the TIF funds get spent on—admittedly after the fact. The only thing new in this article is that they've found out—in advance—how the money will be spent this year.
To me, this is just more rabble rousing. I get it: you don't like TIFs. You want to start a discussion about whether TIF money should get redirected to the main budget during these hard times? Great. For better or for worse (and I am on the worse side here), TIFs are legal and have been used this way for a long time.
To the editor:
Solving Chicago's budget crisis is indeed difficult, but the problem will only get worse for future mayors when there are not more cuts to be made and the money from the tollway and parking meter leases will have been spent.
So what will Mayor Richard M. Daley try next? Will he try to lease our public schools, so that the company in charge can double the classroom size and charge tuition? The idea is certainly far-fetched, unless you compare it with what has happened with the parking meter lease.
It's now time to sell the naming rights to the Daley Center, Daley Plaza, Mayor Daley's Senior Games, Mayor Daley's Kids & Kites Festival, Mayor Daley's Graffiti Blasters, Mayor Daley's Holiday Sports Festival, and anything else promoting the Daley name.
Downsize the Council
Re: "Fact-Checking Mayor Daley's Budget Address," posted by Mick Dumke, October 21
I have been working for the CPD for nearly two decades and I can offer a way to save nearly 100 million dollars. A while back the precincts were rezoned into districts, nearly halving the number of buildings and co-joining the staff into 25 districts. Why not do the same with the part-time aldermen? We have the glorious OEMC 311 system to handle most of what alderman do. We could eliminate 25 aldermanic positions, redistribute their million-dollar "discretionary" funds and have their offices located near the police districts to better communicate with the CPD. With the savings of their salaries, raises, funds, corruption and staff, the saved funds would build a bridge across that mythical budget "gap" created by our mayor.
Throw the Bums Out
Re: "Who'll Decide How Much You Pay? A look at the cast of characters running for the obscure but critical office of Cook County assessor," by Ben Joravsky, October 22
Here is the amazing thing about Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois voters. We say we want new, creative, honest, compentent people to run for office. Then when then do, we say, "Oh, they can't win" or "They'll get eaten alive by the professional politicians." I say the emperor has no clothes. Let's get Andrea Raila on the ballot and scare the shit out of the machine.
Chris Farley's Ghost
Re: "Memento Whore-y," posted by Whet Moser, October 26
I wonder how much the Chris Farley Foundation is getting paid to creep out Richard Roeper. Did Rich have to change his shorts after watching Forrest Gump, or the Coors Light commercial that featured John Wayne?
Roeper is to reading what Twinkies are to dining. (I am probably being unfair to Twinkies.)